Mesh networking comes to Bluetooth
Mesh networking comes to Bluetooth

Mesh networking comes to Bluetooth

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced the arrival of new mesh networking capabilities for the wireless connectivity standard, enabling many-to-many device communications. 

Mesh networking capability is now part of Bluetooth. According to the Bluetooth SIG, which oversees the development of Bluetooth standards and licensing to manufacturers, this enables the standard to support many-to-many device communications and will help to create large-scale IoT device networks.

In other words, Bluetooth might now be suitable for environments where tens, hundreds, or thousands of devices need to reliably and securely communicate with one another, such as building automation, for example.

Read more: Smart city of Aarhus uses Bluetooth sensors to improve traffic flows

No single point of failure

As a blog post from the Bluetooth SIG put it late last year: “Mesh changes Bluetooth from your typical point-to-point, star-based network topology to a true mesh networking topology. This will fundamentally open up a ton of great use cases for developers, and that means great innovation happening in the industry.”

The new features claim to support self-healing networks with no single points of failure, with thousands of nodes offering “industrial-level performance”, and providing security for protection against “all known attacks”. That’s a big promise.

Bluetooth uses a ‘flood message relay architecture’, a simple, reliable form of message routing suited for low-bandwidth networks that handle a significant volume of multicast messaging traffic.

The mesh capability will take a full-stack approach that defines the low-level radio up to the high-level application layer, ensuring that all aspects of the technology are fully specified. The Bluetooth SIG added that the mesh networking has undergone comprehensive, multi-vendor interoperability testing. This was conducted during the specification development process, it stressed, rather than after specification release.

Read more: Bluetooth 5 launches with emphasis on IoT

Additional services

“Within the building automation market, there is a growing focus on connected lighting and the role it can play as a platform for providing automation services throughout a facility,” commented Szymon Slupik, president and CTO of smart lighting specialist Silvair and chairman of the mesh working group within the Bluetooth SIG.

“A smart lighting platform built on top of Bluetooth mesh networking can also support asset tracking, points of interest, and wayfinding services. These value-added capabilities are part of why we believe Bluetooth is an ideal technology for enabling a mesh network.”

Mark Powell, executive director for Bluetooth SIG said that by adding support for mesh networking, the Bluetooth member community is “continuing a long history of focused innovation to help new, up-and-coming markets flourish.”

“In the same way the connected device market experienced rapid growth after the introduction of Bluetooth Low Energy, we believe Bluetooth mesh networking can play a vital role in helping early stage markets, such as building automation and wireless sensor networks, experience more rapid growth,” he commented.

The Bluetooth mesh networking specifications, as well as the tools required to qualify Bluetooth products with mesh networking support, will be available on the Bluetooth website.